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Tim Russert: Will You Ask Your Next Republican Guest About Coulter's 9/11 Smear?

06/07/2006 04:50 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Open Letter to Tim Russert was launched in January of 2006 with this question: "This Sunday, you asked Senator Barack Obama to respond to Harry Belafonte's remarks about George W. Bush being a "terrorist." Why? Why did you ask this question? Harry Belafonte isn't an elected official, he doesn't speak for Democrats, he doesn't represent Senator Obama, he doesn't represent the Democratic Party, and he is entitled to his own opinion."

In light of Ann Coulter's putrid remarks on NBC's Today Show, wouldn't it be consistent for NBC's Russert to challenge his next Republican guest to respond to her comments?

And to those who suggest that the best way to deal with Coulter is to ignore her, I wrote this earlier:

This race to the bottom by the establishment media leaves the progressive netroots in a quandary: if the only thing these so-called 'journalists' want is to create an uproar, how do we respond? Some bloggers advocate ignoring slime-traffickers like Coulter and Glenn Beck, others attack them for the scum they peddle. My preferred tactic is to excoriate the media outlet that gives them a forum - it may play into their need for attention, but I think it's imperative for us to create a public record of these media transgressions, if only for historians to understand how America sunk so far so fast.

Media Matters asks the correct question:

"NBC's Today has recently hosted a number of far-right ideologues. Just this morning, Ann Coulter was on and talked about her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, which is rife with hate speech, including a section about the 9-11 widows in which she wrote: "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles, reveling in their status as celebrities, and talked about by grief-arazzis. I have never seen people enjoying their husband's deaths so much." Coulter has a long history of engaging in hateful rhetoric and misinformation, and yet Today still hosted her, giving her book free publicity and a degree of credibility it doesn't deserve. Indeed, this was the third time in eight months that Coulter has appeared on Today. Why?"

One thing is for sure: responding to Coulter's assertions is pointless. When she speaks the unspeakable about the 9/11 widows ("I have never seen people enjoying their husbands' death so much") and when Glenn Beck does the same (calling hurricane survivors in New Orleans "scumbags" and saying he "hates" 9-11 families), reasoned discussion is not on the table.

I posed a rhetorical challenge to the media yesterday and I'll repeat it here:

"While major media figures and media outlets dizzy themselves trying to rebut factual critiques from the left and to justify unjustifiable reporting, herds of rightwingers wantonly slander them.... This kind of assault on the free press is par for the course on the right. And unlike Democrats, Republicans at the highest levels willingly go after the media. For once, I'd like to see journalists rise in indignation and fury. For once, I'd like to know if the targets of this abuse have the pride and dignity to reject it, to stand up for their profession and their personal integrity. If the same attacks were directed toward any other profession or professional, the response would be overwhelming. Why do reporters take it lying down?

I challenge establishment journalists to stand up to the rightwing smear machine and condemn the maligning of their patriotism and of their values."

Really though, I should know better. Not only will these media clowns refuse to defend themselves against rightwing slander, they will eagerly give those slanderers a platform to spread their smut. (Hat tip: James Boyce)